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Four Chord 10 Music Festival: A decade of punk rock bliss (day 1)

Updated: 4 days ago

Four Chord Music Festival's tenth anniversary kicked off with a bang, delivering a thrilling first day that left fans eagerly anticipating what the rest of the weekend would bring. Stepping into an inaugural location at the historic Carrie Furnace in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the festival's opening day featured a stellar lineup of pop-punk legends, high-energy performances, and an atmosphere brimming with nostalgia and excitement.


four chord 10

As I prepared for my seven-hour drive into Pittsburgh from New York City the eve before day one, I left with no expectations for what the next day at Four Chord might bring, beyond thrashing punk rock and pop punk heavyweights. Many have attempted to revive Warped Tour since its demise in 2019, yet, frequently these events have failed to withstand the test of time. A decade of Four Chord is a milestone worth celebrating; alas Warped Tour has been revived on the East Coast! It might not be what it used to be, but Four Chord 10 was a testament to the lasting impact of this music scene and the punk rock genre not to mention the community it has fostered over the years. My drive was far from straightforward yet nonetheless scenic as I drove through one torrential rain cloud into the next until finally entering Pittsburgh well after two in the morning.


With hardly five hours of sleep under my belt, I abandoned my car in the hotel parking lot Saturday morning, driven by an adrenaline rush ignited from the stellar lineup impending for the first day and with the assumption the practically sold-out event would be jam-packed with cars of fans just as eager as me to get an early start to an unforgettable weekend. Much to my surprise, Four Chord went above and beyond to ensure the somewhat obscure location was effortless to arrive at, with two parking lots and a shuttle service to transport attendees to and from the off-site additional landing station. Not only did this allow almost everyone to save money on ordering car services, but it also helped to divide the crowds by the end of the night, making exiting the venue much less overwhelming and overcrowded.



Arriving at Carrie Furnace, I was rendered speechless as we approached the opening gates of Four Chord. The authentic steelwork is a monument to Pittsburgh, producing 1,000-1,250 tons of iron a day during its peak. Nowadays, all that is left on the 168-acre site are furnaces #6 and #7, and its hot metal bridge, even so, previous deteriorations have not diminished the beauty of the historic grounds. The architecture is breathtaking, offering a panoramic backdrop to the festival that enhances the deep connection the event has with Pennsylvania's history. While Carrie Furnace was breathtaking to the eye, the location was surely not ideal for a festival of this scale and genre. The loose soil terrain caused the air to be thick with dirt the second mosh pits broke out, leaving everyone covered from head to toe in grime by the end of the night. Rocks large enough to trip over yet small enough to kick up while two-stepping were inescapable and the expansive landscape lacked shaded areas for attendees to avoid the almost 100-degree weather. Nonetheless, the 168 acres of Carrie Furnace perfectly accommodated the thousands in attendance not to mention the numerous vendors, food trucks, merch booths, and interactive activities plus, on-site parking for at least a hundred cars. The landscape was easy to navigate, allowing the two stages to be only a few feet apart from each other so fans could easily hop from one set to another without missing a single song throughout the whole day.



As I approached Will Call to retrieve my passes for the weekend, I waited behind a woman with a cast around her leg, standing beside a friend assisting in carrying her belongings. As I tried to not eavesdrop, I overheard the woman asking if the venue offered ADA accommodations, when she mentioned she hadn't previously registered, the event staff had no issue ensuring she felt safe with her friend and enjoyed the show with proper accessibility. We've spoken about it before on our site and accessibility can come in many different forms but has frequently been overseen at venues or large-scale events such as music festivals. Four Chord evidently cares about their fans and guarantees everyone gets to revel in the moment by offering a section elevated a bit above General Admission but just below the VIP viewing with seats for those who need accommodations. Eventually, I retrieved my passes from the woman working will call, after bantering back and forth, I learned she had been celebrating her fifth year working at Four Chord. Throughout the day I discovered much of the staff shared the same sentiment, most being involved for the whole decade of its existence, which only elevated the sense of community Four Chord inspires to create.


From the moment I stepped through the Four Chord portal, I felt safe and at home. The staff greeted us with bright smiles as they scanned tickets and checked bags, reminding us to drink water and reapply sunscreen then laughing and asking who we're most excited to see perform. Every event claims to try to foster community, but the staff curates the atmosphere and Four Chord has an all-around spectacular crew running the show.



With nonstop music from one in the afternoon until nearly midnight plus no overlapping sets and two stages right beside each other, there is no excuse not to see every single artist on the Four Chord lineup perform. We arrived an hour before the music began to investigate Four Chord's vendor village and more. Upon walking in, we were greeted by the alternative streetwear brand 'Born Dead.' Inspired by street art and tattoos, Born Dead's founders, Vinny and Tate, also celebrated a decade at Four Chord with one-of-a-kind designs. Their affordable collections include various pieces inspired by the music scene and can be purchased on their online shop. After a few hours in the sun, my burnt scalp begged me to invest in their 'MAKE AMERICA PUNK AGAIN' dad hat. I could not count on two hands how many people asked where I had gotten the hat from, and when I wrapped back around on Day 2, they had informed me they were completely sold out of it. I highly recommend checking out Born Dead if you're seeking something unique and fresh in alternative fashion!


Just beyond Born Dead's booth, I found myself lingering at Punk Rock Saves Lives' tent, where the friendly sponsors welcomed us with open arms to learn about their mission providing awareness on Health Concerns, Equal Rights, Human Rights, and more. If you're a Warped Tour veteran like myself, you might remember this charity from the years it contributed to the traveling festival. Punk Rock Saves Lives is one of the largest non-profits within the scene that operates off the general rules of the pit; When you fall, we pick you back up. If Punk Rock Saves Lives is present at a music festival you're attending, you can be certain the event curators are prioritizing the attendee experience above all. The booth distributes all sorts of essential items such as harm reduction resources, feminine hygiene products, general protective items, and more. Throughout both days, the booth was stocked with earplugs, Naloxone, tampons, sunscreen, and more, certifying fans took care of themselves while still enjoying the experience to its fullest. Punk Rock Saves Lives further enhanced the sense of community penetrating Four Chord Music Festival. Even if the sponsors were working the event, they portrayed themselves as just another attendee excited to see their favorite artists perform by being open and responsive to any questions or conversations attendees came to them with. To find out more information or to support Punk Rock Saves Lives' initiatives, check out their website for additional details.



A standout feature of the event was by far the "dunk a punk" tank hosted by Biggies Bullies, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit organization founded by Alli Stetz to provide safer shelter environments to dogs, specifically pit bulls. Unfortunately, every single time I walked past the tank with terribly murky water, that I would've personally avoided being dunked into at all costs, there wasn't a single punk impending their doom of lukewarm, dirt-infused water. Nonetheless, I circled the area after every single set hoping to capture the moment but I ended up only reliving it through social media videos that confirmed band members had been dunked throughout the entire day, and willingly! Not only did Biggies Bullies' presence at Four Chord enhance the festivals longstanding loyalty to supporting Pittsburgh's community beyond music, it also engaged crowd members of all ages, especially the younger kids in attendance whose smiles never seized as they threw the ball and watched their parents favorite musicians become soaked. Admittedly it must've felt nice with the relentless sun beating down on us.



With so much to witness, an hour passed in the blink of an eye and finally the music had begun. Kicking off day one were Pennsylvania natives Mallory Run reminding us to support local artists. Originally formed in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, in 2012, Mallory Run were also featured at last year's Four Chord as a showcase of the local Pennsylvania music scene, making them veterans to the Four Chord stage. The crowd, a mix of die-hard fans and curious newcomers like myself, filled the surrounding area with palpable excitement as crowd surfers reacted to the first chords that reverberated. Mallory Run's powerful vocals, combined with the tight instrumentation of the band, created a wall of sound that was both immersive and exhilarating. Their set was a rollercoaster of emotions, blending heartfelt lyrics with head-banging melodies that left the audience craving more. Before ending their set to meet attendees at their merch table, Mallory Run took a moment to express their gratitude to the fans and festival organizers. Lead singer, Dan McClune's, heartfelt words about the importance of the music community and the support they've received were met with enthusiastic cheers, further solidifying the bond between the band and their audience and the Pennsylvania community.



Following Mallory Run's opening set was supposed to be another east coast native, Koyo. Unfortunately, their flight never made it into Pennsylvania and as a result, the morning of day one, Koyo was replaced with Orlando-based melodic hardcore ensemble, 408. Despite the unexpected and last minute set change, 408 came out bustling with adrenaline, embodying every inch of the stage with their energetic performance. The production quality of the performance was top-notch, with crisp sound and vibrant lighting enhancing the overall experience and adding to the summer concert ambiance. The band's energy was palpable, and their tight musicianship ensured that every song hit with maximum impact. As the set progressed, the crowd's energy only seemed to grow, culminating in a raucous, unforgettable finale of mosh pits and crowd surfers.



Four Chord Music Festival would not be made possible without Eternal Boy's Rishi Bahl, who has continued to bring over 20 pop punk artists to Pennsylvania annually. There were so many acts to look forward to Day 1, but like most in attendance, I had spent majority of the day waiting for Eternal Boy to hit the main stage and their vivacious performance exceeded any expectations I had. Every year, Eternal Boy has a feature on the Four Chord lineup, yet even after all this time, they have not lost the amusement of performing live at the festival. Having been together since high school, Eternal Boy has surely stood the test of time in the Pittsburgh music scene, contributing to their polished musicianship and mastery of stage presence. The band was accompanied by friends of theirs dressed in flamingo costumes to emulate the 2024 festival mascot. As the band performed fan-favorite after fan-favorite, the flamingos cooled down the crowd with water guns and tossed in beach balls for the crowd to pass around. The performance was dynamic and lively, easily becoming a highlight of Day 1's artist showcases.



The rest of the day was filled with pop-punk superstars including Driveways, Microwave, Millitaire Gun, State Champs, Four Year Strong, and Senses Fail. All kept the energy levels high and ensured the fans were safe as the crowds increased by the minute. All this led up to two headlining acts that complemented the lineup ideally. Ending the night, were pop-punk staples The Story So Far and post-hardcore legends A Day To Remember.



The anticipation was tangible as the crowd swarmed the Monster Energy Stage eagerly awaiting The Story So Far to takeover Four Chord 10. The Bay Area pop-punk band, known for their high-energy shows and deeply emotive lyrics, did not disappoint and the crowd's energy surely never seized as the mosh pits grew and the number of crowd-surfers doubled. Opening with "Keep It Up" off their 2018 album Proper Dose, The Story So Far immediately ignited the crowd. The audience erupted, singing along passionately with vocalist Parker Cannon, whose raw and powerful delivery set the tone for the evening. The band's tight musicianship was evident from the start, with each member contributing to a cohesive and exhilarating sound.


Guitarists Kevin Geyer and William Levy provided a perfect balance of melodic riffs and driving power chords, creating the dynamic backbone of the band's sound and adhering to the pop-punk jab Four Chord's title is inspired by, in which punk rock music is crafted from a structure of four essential chords; The I–V–vi–IV chord progression. Their interplay was seamless, adding depth and intensity to each track's live rendition. The rhythm section, featuring bassist Kelen Capener and drummer Ryan Torf, was equally impressive, laying down a solid foundation that kept the energy high throughout the set.


After just releasing a new album prior to their performance at Four Chord, The Story So Far's setlist was nonetheless a well-curated mix of old and new, showcasing their evolution as a band while satisfying long-time fans. Songs like "Heavy Gloom" and "Roam" were met with fervent cheers and applause, as the crowd snag along word for word, creating a powerful sense of unity and shared experience. Newer tracks like "Big Blind" also received a warm reception with people throwing cards into the air and flinging them back around to the back of the crowd, demonstrating the band's continued relevance and ability to connect with their audience. The band's chemistry on stage was undeniable, and their performance was a testament to their years of experience and dedication to their craft.



Finally, the blistering sun had settled under the horizon and the stars began to paint the sky, the moment everyone had been waiting for was at the tip of our fingers and impatience was thick in the evening air. With a thirty minute intermission before A Day To Remember closed out the first day of Four Chord 10, the audience flocked around Monster Energy Stage eager to be as close as possible to the band that has stood as beacons of this scene for the last two decades.


The air buzzed with premonition as the lights dimmed and the crowd at Four Chord 10 erupted in a unified cheer. A Day To Remember was about to take the stage, and fans knew they were in for a night of unforgettable music and high-energy performances. The Florida-based band, known for their unique blend of pop-punk and metalcore, delivered a headline set that nothing short of spectacular. The set was well worth a seven hour drive and two years of waiting for the band to cross back into a city near me.


The band opened with their 2010 explosive anthem "Sticks & Bricks," instantly igniting the crowd. Frontman Jeremy McKinnon commanded the stage with his powerful vocals and dynamic presence, drawing the audience into the performance from the first note. His seamless transition between melodic singing and aggressive screams showcased his impressive range and set the tone for the rest of the night.


Guitarists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall provided a relentless barrage of riffs and breakdowns, their synergy evident in every song. Their performance was both tight and energetic, driving the band's signature sound and keeping the momentum high. Bassist Joshua Woodard and drummer Alex Shelnutt anchored the band with a solid rhythm section, their precision and power adding depth to the overall sound.


The setlist was a well-crafted mix of the band's biggest hits and fan favorites, spanning their extensive discography. Songs like "All I Want," "I'm Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?", and "Paranoia" had the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs, creating a palpable sense of community and shared excitement. There were sound complications during "All I Want" where the power cut for majority of the song, however, the crowd made up for the lack of sound with their overpowering screams. The band also shared deeper cuts and newer tracks, showcasing their evolution and versatility while keeping long-time fans satisfied.


One of the highlights of the night was the performance of "If It Means A Lot To You," where McKinnon's vocals were accompanied by a sea of fans singing every word. The acoustic-driven ballad provided a poignant moment of connection between the band and the audience, with the entire venue illuminated by phone lights, creating a stunning visual display.


Throughout the set, A Day To Remember engaged with the crowd in a way that few bands can. McKinnon frequently address the audience, sharing stories and expressing gratitude for the unwavering support. The band's interactions were genuine and heartfelt, making the massive festival feel intimate and personal.


The energy in the crowd was at its peak as the band launched into their closing songs. "It's Complicated" and "The Downfall For Us" were the perfect end to a high-octane set, with fans moshing, crowd-surfing, and singing along with unbridled enthusiasm. A Day To Remember left the stage to a roaring ovation, their performance a testament to their status as one of the leading bands in the scene.


In conclusion, A Day To Remember's headline set at Four Chord 10 was a masterclass in live performance. Their ability to blend melodic hooks with heavy breakdowns, combined with their engaging stage presence and top-notch production, created an unforgettable experience for everyone in attendance. The band's genuine connection with their fans and their relentless energy ensured that this performance will be remembered as a highlight of the festival.



The Four Chord 10 Music Festival was a celebration of punk rock's past, present, and future. With stellar performances from veteran bands and newer acts, the festival provided a diverse and engaging experience for fans. The sense of community and shared passion for music made it a memorable event, solidifying its place as a must-attend festival for punk rock enthusiasts. As the festival continues to grow and evolve, it remains a testament to the enduring appeal of punk rock and the power of music to bring people together.


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